Algae, nitrate rises FAST - but why? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2005, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Algae, nitrate rises FAST - but why?

Hi,

I'm still trying to successfully make the transition to a stable, well-planted tank.

My problem is green algae, of the hard/slimy persuasion (nothing fuzzy). It covers the glass and is difficult to scrape off. It also covers the gravel, the equipment, etc. And is making headway on the some plants, as well as the wood shrimp...

I believe this problem is due to persistently high nitrates, but whatever I do, I simply CANNOT keep the nitrates under 10ppm without 30% DAILY water changes. Skipping changes for a few days results in rapid and progressive increase of nitrate levels and algae growth. Level seems to climb about 10ppm per day.

Here's all the parameters I can think to list. I'll provide any other needed info on request. Please help!

Setup:
* 10 gallon glass tank
* 46w Lighting (2x 23w 5000k spiral compact fluorescents, in a standard incandescent hood, inside painted white, run 8hrs. daily)
* Heater, set to 76F
* Aquaclear 20, set to lowest flow
* Generic "Nanofilter" (made for 5g tank)
* DIY CO2 (yeast fermentation) injected into Nanofilter intake
* Plain gravel, no decorations whatsoever

Fauna:
* 12-15 small ghost shrimp
* 1x Wood Shrimp
* Malaysian trumpet snails (many)
* Pond snails (not so many, still more than I'd like)
* Male Betta
* 2x small Gold Barbs
* 3x small Green Corydoras Catfish
* 2x Otocinclus

Flora:
* Hornwort, anachris, cabomba, bacopa, moneywort, water wisteria, banana plant, aponogetons, more. Heavily planted; plant growth is good, moderate pearling especially on faster growers

Water Additives:
* Few drops of Ammo-Lock with every water change
* PMDD (ingredients from Greg Watson, no nitrate/phosphate added in my mix)

Water Source:
* I'm blessed with excellent tapwater. pH around 8.4. Tests 0 for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate. No chlorine/chloramine detectable by taste or smell. No other flavours/odors/colors.

Current Tank Water Parameters:
* 7.0pH
* 0 ammonia
* 0 nitrite
* 20-30ppm nitrate
* 2ppm phosphate

Feeding:
Right now, very very minimal. I'm trying to encourage the fauna to eat the snails/algae.

Forgive the horrid photography, but it should give you some idea of the level of planting in my tank. (It's also the 1st ever posting of my tank!) I thought plants were supposed to EAT nitrate, why is my nitrate level so out of control?



Pulling his hair out along with the algae,
Chris
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2005, 02:16 PM
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what is your KH ? you might be short on co2 try to bring it up to like 20 to 30 ppm

29 gal tank 2 55 watt coralife with GE 9325K diy co2 100% Eco-Complete
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2005, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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John S,

I tested and the tank is 5 degrees KH. At 7.0pH (maybe a bit lower, tests aren't too accurate) this puts me around 15-20ppm CO2.

The rate of photosynthesis doesn't seem to be CO2- or nutrient- limited. I determined this experimentally a few days ago by pointing a 500W halogen spotlight at the front of the tank, from 2 feet away, for two hours. I kept a close eye on temperature during the test, to make sure I didn't make soup. Pearling was extremely heavy and sustained throughout the test duration. I should have measured pH at the end to check for CO2 depletion, but didn't think of it at the time.

With my normal lighting, the anachris, cabomba, and hortwort are growing about 0.5"/day. In my noobish opinion, this seems good. I'd probably benefit from better lighting, and have been eyeing the kits from ahsupply.com. Still, I think I have a more fundamental problem and would like to identify it before I start going nuts with lighting, CO2, or anything else.

Some theories:

1) Something is in my tapwater, that doesn't show up on any of my tests, and is being converted to nitrate. I have access to a 5-stage RO unit and could test this, but I think it's unlikely. Also, I'm a bit squeamish about putting RO water with large amounts of baking soda added in my tank.
2) The snails are presenting a heavy bioload. Most snails in tank are Malaysian Trumpets. I have not heard of these being a problem. I could test this by removing fish/shrimp and nuking the tank with copper, but that's drastic and it would probably take weeks to clean the tank of the copper and decay products of dead snails. Not to mention possible plant damage.

Thanks,
Chris
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2005, 06:16 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone else? I'm at wit's end...

Here's some more pictures of what's going on inside my tank.. and some practice at aquarium photography to distract me from pulling my hair out!

At the left you can see the green algae on the glass that's plaguing me. I've been doing 30% water changes DAILY to keep nitrate ~10ppm, and it slows it down greatly. Skipping daily water changes rapidly causes this:



There's obviously some photosynthesis going on here, I can't understand why my nitrate goes up 10ppm per day:



Otherwise, I'm pretty pleased



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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2005, 05:02 PM
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it could be the kind of lighing your are useing i would still up your co2 to 30 for a few days those pictures where they when u had the spot light on them or from your normal lighting???

29 gal tank 2 55 watt coralife with GE 9325K diy co2 100% Eco-Complete
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2005, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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I've boosted the CO2 a bit by placing the bottle on top of the light for extra heat. Will mix up a new batch this weekend and see if I can get to 30ppm proper.

The algae's from the normal lighting.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2005, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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I've boosted the CO2 a bit by placing the bottle on top of the light for extra heat. Will mix up a new batch this weekend and see if I can reach a measured 30ppm.

Yet, I know many people run their CO2 at 20ppm and have been doing it for years. After all, this is the standard unless you subscribe to the EI philosophy, right? And I don't see anyone else struggling with 10ppm nitrate increases per day as a result.

Oh, and the algae is from the normal lighting.

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